Ambrose, Prince of Wessex: Trader of Kiev by Bruce Corbett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is one of those book one downloads for free off Amazon and then quickly forgets about. The story provides a quick entertaining read and a nice linear plot that goes from beginning to end. Fortunately there are no boring parts. What reads as a string of events should have been fashioned into a proper story line. That means setting, opening action and then actions up until you reach the climax and then the falling action. Descriptions of the area and descriptive language need to be beefed up and the dialogue could use a lot of work.
It seems that the author has done a fair amount of research. His work does display a fairly deep knowledge of Viking culture, their weapons, customs , religion and other surrounding culture. Yet it seems like the research does not make it's way across to the reader. Mr. Corbett also had knowledge of the Central Asian cultures the Rus came into contact with like the war like Pechenegs, militaristic Khazars and the raiding Magyars. The author should have given us more depth instead of a shallow read that would be suitable for children or young teenagers had it not been For some off the sex scenes.
The story starts off with a Viking raid of Wessex, Ambrose the bastard son of a local chieftain is taken captive along with his body guard. In the scenes that follow we are taken to life of a Viking slave complete with neck collars and treatment that is both fair and brutal at the same time. Many slaves could look forward to being sold in a Byzantium slave market. Some slave masters were kind like Ambrose's master Canute, who treats Ambrose like a son and has him learn fighting skill. Phillip his body guard fairs worse, his master is cruel and merciless. Ambrose and Pollonius must rescue their friends before going to the East to open up trading posts in the Russian Steppe.
It is on the Russian steppe that Canuteson or Ambrose sets up business outpost for Canute's friend Gunnar. On the Russian Steppes the Viking are settling the land and forming alliances with local slavs to fend off against the raiding Pechenegs. Ambrose first starts off in Novgorod and then moves to Kiev where a local force of Vikings and Slavs hod off a Pecheneg onslaught. Pollonious is a bright Greek who has mastered many languages. His brain power and planning skills are crucial.
The research and knowledge bring a lot of potential to this book especially since the interests in the Viking culture is rather strong today. Book needs more depth and fleshing out of detail.
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